The Best Deals at the Deadline for Top NHL Teams

Tyler Eccles ‘24

Note: These top NHL teams only include the Top 4 teams in each Conference as it stands on the 31st of March.
Eastern Conference
Starting off with the Florida Panthers who lead the East with a game in hand on the Carolina Hurricanes. Florida’s best deal was undoubtedly the deal for former Flyer’s captain and legend, Claude Giroux. Giroux is in the last year of his deal, and will likely be just a rental, although an elite one at that. He is 34 years old now, with 43 points in 57 games, but still an elite player who has scored over 100 points in a season before. Florida had to give up former first round pick Owen Tippet, a first, and a third round pick. Giroux looks to be fitting nicely into the Florida lineup and has 5 assists in his first 4 games to this point [1].
Carolina’s best and only notable trade was in a deal for Max Domi from the Columbus Blue Jackets that also involved the Panthers. The notable player they gave up was prospect Aidan Hreschuk who is currently playing in the NCAA, who was sent to Columbus as part of the deal. Domi has been an up and down player throughout his career, at one point notching 72 points in 82 games. This year he has 34 in 57, with two of those being with Carolina in 4 games. Most recently, Domi has featured on the second line with Vincent Trocheck and Andrei Svechnikov [2].
The New York Rangers made multiple deals that have worked out to this point, but the best being the deal for Frank Vatrano as all the Rangers had to give up was a fourth round pick. Vatrano has 5 goals and 6 points in his first 8 games with New York and has provided the team with a huge scoring boost. Notably, the Rangers have won their last four games with a point from him in each. The Rangers also acquired Andrew Copp and Tyler Motte who have also been fantastic, but the fact that they only gave up a 4th round pick makes the trade for Vatrano the best deadline deal from the Rangers [3].
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s best deal was for Brandon Hagel, who has been great this year with the Chicago Blackhawks, posting 38 points in 61 games. He has only one goal with the Lightning, likely due to less ice time. Hagel has potential to be a solid player with Tampa for years to come with multiple years left on his deal. In the present, Tampa looks to win its third Stanley cup, and they will need all hands on deck to do so. The only problem with the deal was that Tampa gave up a lot, including Taylor Raddysh who has looked better in the short time with his new team. Two first round picks in 2023 and 24 also provide some long term skepticism for the move, but ultimately, time will tell [4].

Western Conference
The Colorado Avalanche came away with Josh Manson in a deal with the Anaheim Ducks. Manson is a proven NHL veteran who is best known as being a defensive defenseman. Manson’s defensive and physical strength will be an important piece to an Avalanche team that has not been past the second round with their current core, which is widely considered to be one of the best in the league. Anson has looked good in his first 8 games with the Avalanche, and Colorado did not have to pay a steep price for him, as all they dealt away was a second round pick and a decent prospect in Drew Helleson. However, this trade will only benefit Colorado if they can finally live up to their potential and win the cup [5].
The Calgary Flames acquired Calle Jarnkrok from the Seattle Kraken. The Flames gave up no current prospects and only a second, third, and seventh round pick. Jarnkrok is a veteran role player at 30 years old that has put up consistent numbers throughout his career. Mostly spending his career with the Nashville Predators, Jarnkrok now moves on to a Calgary team with big postseason aspirations. Jarnkrok’s production has decreased slightly, as he only has 2 assists in his first 7 games. However, this could just be the result of him still trying to fit into his new team and a lesser role [6].
The Minnesota Wild were able to acquire future Hall of Famer Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury from the Chicago Golden Knights. Fleury is coming off a season where he won the Vezina Trophy, but he and his former team have struggled throughout this season. Fleury is still a fantastic goalie and has won three Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fleury has won both of the games he has started to this point, and has only allowed three goals on 55 shots. Minnesota’s goaltending was struggling up until the deadline, so it will be important for them that one of either Cam Talbot or Marc Andre Fleury can step up and dominate [7].
The St. Louis Blues acquired Nick Leddy from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Oskar Sundqvist, Jake Walman, and a 2023 second round pick. While on paper, it appears that the Blues gave up more value in assets that they received, Leddy fills significant gaps for St. Louis that needed to be filled. . St. Louis lacks defensive depth and the acquisition of Nick Leddy certainly helps that issue. The deal was most likely an overpay considering that Leddy has struggled this season, and even a prime Nick Leddy may not have cost that much. A lot has to be said about Steve Yzerman who is the current General Manager of Red Wings and his ability to get the most out of trades [8]

If I had to choose a winner of the NHL deadline, I would choose the New York Rangers. The Rangers were able to make loads of important moves and gave up only one significant prospect in Morgan Barron. The Rangers lost their first game after the deadline against a divisional rival in the New Jersey Devils in an ugly way, but since then, they have won the last 4 games in a row and look to be a much better team going into the playoffs.